Friday, 3 April 2009

Review: The Haunting in Connecticut

Year: 2009
Director:Peter Cornwell
Screenplay: Adam Simon, Tim Metcalfe
Starring: Virgina Madsen, Kyle Gallner, Elias Koteas, Amanda Crew

The first half of The Haunting in Connecticut (to be shortened to THIC for this review) is quite effective for a horror a point. The film forgets about building up any type of believable story and focuses it's efforts on jump scares. For a horror film it's not a bad thing. Peter Cornwell's film is filled to the brim with relatively strong "zingers" to get the heart going. I state relatively because THIC relies on amping it's sound and score to scare the viewer as opposed to manipulating the visual.

I'm not found of sound "jumps" because as a viewer I begin to automatically telegraph the jumps. They are no longer a surprise because someone is warning you, nay TELLING you when to jump. THIC does alot of this and it's shame because once again like many films of it's ilk, the film works best when it's quiet. This places THIC in a odd position because it's sacrificed it's narrative for scares, so what we get a large amount of jump scares but a lack of build up. Many won't give a shit and that's fine as the director Peter Cornwell works well on BOO moments, but the tension and threat is lacking and the film loses balance.

But while THIC is uneven in it's first half at least it was bearable. I didn't mind that wasn't too original. However, screenwriters Simon and Metcalfe (writers of the brilliant horror documentary American Nightmare) decide to pile on the cliche for the second half, nabbing the most overused plot points from a whole range of films. You got your Amityvile Horrors, your Exorcists, and your Poltergeists in full glory, shouting out it's cliches while telling viewers that it's based on a true story. All played out with without a hint of irony.

Do you remember what I said about the film having no narrative build up a such? Well it's fine because the screenwriters dump a horrible scene full of exposition in a library (full of extremely handy pieces of story information the characters need) before ending the film with a climax that not only defies plausibility but subjects the audience to the one of the most overused plot points that would have Mary Lambert laughing her ass off. Who is Mary Lambert? IMDB my friends and search for her. She's a director and in looking for her may ruin this films ending although I could see many getting the film very quickly.

So any other points? The performance from Kyle Gallner (who I last saw in a piece of shit horror film called sublime) is a good one, as is Elias Koteas who plays a cancer suffering reverend with a pleasant calm. This performance works as the film is so much more watchable than a more showy, scenery chewing display we usually see. Virgina Madsen appears to be sleepwalking in my opinion, while Amanda Crew is memorable due the fact she's playing a role she's far too old for and is clearly hiding her awesome rack. Sorry for being crass but sometimes you have to call them how you see them.

THIC isn't completely awful as it at least tries to appear to be original in a year which will be filled with remakes, sequels and the like. But those who watch alot of horror films may find the film quite a limp attempt.